Collin TFA

The Collin chapter of the Texas Faculty Association is a non-profit organization empowering higher education advocates, faculty, and personnel statewide.

We are based in Collin County, Texas.

Operating as usual

Texas Faculty Association 01/30/2024

Welp, it’s January, which means Collin leadership is culling longtime professors who a) cost too much or b) produce utterances to the left of Mussolini or c) both.

In seriousness, we are sorry to know that yet more established faculty are being weeded out for the usual flimsy reasons. We know firsthand the way it can upend your life.

If you would like to have some insurance against Collin College’s capricious application of policy and its president’s tempestuous whims, you should join a union.

Let’s put it this way: those of us who were fired from Collin and also belonged to a union are now all happily established in other teaching jobs in higher ed. The union provided lawyers and advocates to handle all the paperwork and guide us through whatever path we chose.

The many others Collin let go that you didn’t hear about—and who were not union members—could not afford to finance their own legal protection and were, to the last, forced to go away quietly. (Hence the tradition at the college of people disappearing and, 1984-like, everyone is too scared to mention that they ever knew the poor souls in the first place.)

It’s 2024 and long past time “union” stopped being a dirty word in Texas. Protect yourself.

texasfacultyassociation.org is for full- and part-time faculty in higher ed, as well as staff and retired employees.

Texas Faculty Association The Texas Faculty Association, the statewide higher ed affiliate of TSTA and the National Education Association, will unite, organize, and empower higher education advocates, faculty, and personnel to provide a quality education to every student in higher education in Texas.

SpaceX Illegally Fired Workers Critical of Musk, Federal Agency Says (Gift Article) 01/04/2024

According to this suit, Musk fired at least eight SpaceX employees for *circulating a letter* in which they asked everyone to distance themselves from Musk’s problematic Twitter posts. They also asked the company to be more clear about its harassment policies and to fairly enforce them.

In this case, the National Labor Relations Board is heading the case against Musk. ***You may want to be aware that the NLRB, ironically, does NOT cover public employees, such as those who work at state-funded institutions.

So, petty despots everywhere are willing to tank anyone who slights them. What to do? If you’re a public higher ed faculty or staff member in TX, your best option is to join a union. Our website is at Texas Faculty Association dot org.

Don’t wait until the crisis lands to protect yourself from capricious and arbitrary actions from leadership. If they’ve thrown people like you under the bus before, you know they’ll do it again. And the security of knowing you’ll have complete legal support is invaluable.

SpaceX Illegally Fired Workers Critical of Musk, Federal Agency Says (Gift Article) The National Labor Relations Board said the rocket company had wrongly dismissed eight people for a letter raising concerns about the chief executive.

The Humanities Have Sown the Seeds of Their Own Destruction 12/22/2023

A provocative article—I find the main premise might have merit, though I’m not sure about every claim the author makes.
————

“A cynic could easily argue that the core purpose of the humanities has become to provide the illusion of progressivism to deeply unprogressive institutions, helping them appeal to wealthy liberal students.

Colleges usher in social-justice-warrior faculty through the front door while exploiting workers, piling up student debt, and wooing mega-rich donors in the back. Humanities professors often think we’re critics of academic capitalism and rarely pause to wonder if we’re its unwitting stooges.”

The Humanities Have Sown the Seeds of Their Own Destruction If the humanities have become more political over the past decade, it is the result of pressure to prove that they are “useful.”

12/13/2023

I actually received an apple this semester. First one ever! Best gift.

12/12/2023

Community members, parents, teachers, students—so many people are unhappy with the extremism of book bans in Texas public schools and libraries.

If you’re tired of feeling like our community is the setting for a dystopian novel (or at least the prologue to one), here is a chance to help.

Putting oneself physically in a place, even silently, has historical precedent for success. Peaceful protest, especially in tandem with other nonviolent strategies can be powerful.

Join us for a silent demonstration of the freedom to read on Tuesday night, 5-7 pm.

2700 W 15th St. Plano, TX

11/29/2023
Professor's Free Speech Lawsuit Delivers Win for Collin College 11/20/2023

Okay…

“Jurors found that the choice to not renew Phillips’ contract had been motivated by protected speech, but that the school ‘would have made the same decision in the absence of that speech.’”

Professor's Free Speech Lawsuit Delivers Win for Collin College The school had landed on a list of "10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech" for the past three years running.

11/17/2023

Guess what? If you teach at Collin College, the administration has an early holiday gift for you.

You see, they understand how difficult it can be to handle a Canvas course all by yourself. Therefore--at least according to three separate reports we've been given firsthand from current faculty--administrators are now joining your Canvas courses and monitoring all your activity. How helpful!

In some cases, they are even messaging your students on your behalf. Isn't that thoughtful of them? Now you have extra time to take a long lunch or even get a mani.

If you want to send a personalized thank-you note to whichever sneaky Secret Santa is trolling around in your course, you can find their name and get an activity report of everything they've done by following these instructions:

https://teaching.pitt.edu/resources/how-to-view-your-course-roster-and-manage-users-in-canvas/

Texas Faculty Association 11/14/2023

Dr. Michael Phillips lost the free speech case against Collin College today.

In response, the college president, Neil Matkin, sent a triumphant email to the entire college community crowing about the victory over “the plaintiff, his supporters, and various advocacy groups with their own agendas.”

For current Collin faculty, we hope you are also paying attention to Matkin’s statement that “there is no right or reasonable expectation of employment” beyond the end of your contract any given year—even if you’re on a three-year contract, and even if CoE and everyone else in the org chart has approved it.

As a “various advocacy group with [our] own agenda” of supporting and protecting faculty and staff in higher ed, we at Collin TFA would like to make clear that we’re not ashamed of who we are and what we stand for. And we will be here when you need support.

It’s important to make every effort to contact the union *before* you are in any legal dilemma. Like health insurance, coverage only works when you join in a time of good standing with your employer.

Union membership doesn’t offer any guarantees. It does offer legal support, a help center for advice, a team of professionals to support you, the solidarity of your fellow members, and the knowledge that your dues help to support advocacy for teachers and students in the lege.

We also want to thank Dr. Phillips for taking on the goliath to try to do the right thing. A win for the college in this case is not a win for the employees, students, or the community; it’s a win for Matkin and the corporate-minded leaders who kowtow to him.

Consider this a clear signal: Collin College is newly emboldened to fire any professor for crossing the leadership—without due process, without transparency, without regard to your years of service, and without mercy.

You know what kind of man Matkin is. If you’re concerned about what comes next, don’t wait until it’s too late to reach out and insure yourself.

Texas Faculty Association The Texas Faculty Association, the statewide higher ed affiliate of TSTA and the National Education Association, will unite, organize, and empower higher education advocates, faculty, and personnel to provide a quality education to every student in higher education in Texas.

Complaint for Civil Rights Violations — Phillips v. Collin College 11/05/2023

On Monday morning, former Collin College history professor Dr. Michael Phillips will be in a federal courthouse in Sherman, fighting for the free speech rights of faculty not just in Texas but across the country.

Phillips taught at the Plano campus of Collin College. He was fired in May 2022 after he advocated the removal of Confederate monuments in Dallas, gave an interview about racism in the DFW the area after the El Paso Massacre, and asked students to consider wearing masks during the Omicron wave of Covid.

On March 8, 2022, Phillips filed a lawsuit against Collin College and several administrators, including President Neil Matkin. The suit, linked below, contends Phillips’s right to speech was violated repeatedly.

Phillips is represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a non-profit defending freedom of speech.

The trial opens this Monday at 8:30 am at the federal courthouse, 101 E. Pecan Street, Sherman, TX, 75090.

You can read the lawsuit here:

Complaint for Civil Rights Violations — Phillips v. Collin College Home Research & Learn Contents Table of Contents Share Share with Email Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Print Complaint for Civil Rights Violations — Phillips v. Collin College Related pages Case: Phillips v. Collin Community College District: History Professor Fired for Talking About History, ...

The Right's Latest Book-Ban Target: Texas Plantations 11/03/2023

One white woman who is not a historian has gone on a crusade to stop everyone from having to learn about how enslaved people might have felt. And it’s working—one historical site has already removed several books, all by Black authors, from its gift shop.

“‘The mention of so many “feelings” is ridiculous. All this Collins person does is talk about how he guesses people long dead felt.’ This, she claimed, ‘contributes jack s**t to the historical narrative.’”

The Right's Latest Book-Ban Target: Texas Plantations Conservative white activists hope to control the narrative at Texas historical sites. They might be getting help from the Texas Historical Commission.

10/04/2023

Today IS a good day to join the union!

09/21/2023

Collin College news you may have heard, and may NOT have heard:

1. Collin College was once again named a “Great College to Work For,” which is a program run jointly since 2008 by consulting firm Modern Think and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

We’re not sure how the metrics work, or how the results may be used to effect change if needed. So… congrats?

2. Collin College has been under investigation for nearly a year by the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Education. The OCR found that a number of online courses—as well as general college web pages deemed “of critical importance to students and members of the public”—were not accessible to people with disabilities.

Note that among the noncompliant pages were the main page for the ACCESS (disability services) office and the Deaf Blind Exemption program page.

Those who work at Collin have probably already noticed a lack of urgency for supporting disabled people. Whether it’s a lack of curb cuts; poorly-designed ramps that take a wheelchair user through a labyrinth to get to a door; perpetually broken automated door buttons; or just a general lack of professional development on universal design for online learning, the culture of the college is not especially welcoming to anyone who needs accommodations.

And given the history of lawsuits against Collin by employees claiming discrimination on grounds of disability, this may not be a surprise.

So when Collin’s president crows about a private consulting firm agreeing to pat the college on the back for one more year, employees may want to also ask what *didn’t* show up in their surveys.

Texas A&M System’s guidance on the state’s DEI ban shows compliance might be a hard needle to thread 09/20/2023

The state ban on DEI initiatives is coupled with prohibitions on claiming any group is "superior" to another, or making anyone feel "guilt" about their own identity. But who decides where that line is?

People who teach courses in which discussions of race, gender, class, etc. are fundamental are rightfully concerned. If you point out that systemic behaviors like denying loans to people of color, red lining, and voter suppression have created an unequal (ie racist) system, does this violate the new laws?

Does it violate the new laws to say that men benefit both from the gender gap and from denying it's a problem? Or to say that the hundreds of recent bills curtailing the rights of transgender people are discriminatory?

We don't know how educational leaders (or their close political allies) in Texas will respond to these conversations that have been part of a college education for decades. Their actions suggest that severity and swift action is their plan.

As an educators union, we are here exactly to support people in these kinds of precarious or challenging circumstances. When the tides quickly change and you find yourself the target of complaints from students, parents, admin, or others who might threaten your livelihood just for doing your job, we are here to help.

If you are faculty, staff, adjunct, or retired from one of these positions in Texas higher ed, join us. Don't wait until the house is flooded to look into homeowners' insurance. Preparedness only works when we take preventive action ahead of time!

www.TexasFacultyAssociation.org

Texas A&M System’s guidance on the state’s DEI ban shows compliance might be a hard needle to thread The guidance asks universities in the system to avoid using the acronym DEI on their websites and walk a fine line between organizing events that “support diversity in a general way” but don’t “promote preferential treatment of any particular group.”

09/20/2023

Alternate tag: High school teachers and college teachers

Solidarity is beautiful!

Opinion | People Don’t Want to Be Teachers Anymore. Can You Blame Them? (Gift Article) 09/14/2023

We are only in the early stages of a crisis in public education. Teachers stick around when they are treated well and compensated fairly. Yet in too many places, neither is guaranteed from education employers.

However, teacher unions have the power to organize and demand better conditions. When no one else wants to give respect or fair pay to teachers, unions can hold the line.

“Last year, The Washington Post tallied more than 160 educators who had been fired or resigned in the prior two years due to ‘culture war’ issues. There are reports of harassment and threats emanating from school board meetings. […]

The demoralization of today’s teachers is a problem that may be followed by an even more damaging systemic issue: Fewer college and university students want to become teachers, and the new teacher pipeline is drying up.”

(Gift article; no paywall)

Opinion | People Don’t Want to Be Teachers Anymore. Can You Blame Them? (Gift Article) We’re in a ‘moment of really acute crisis’ for the profession.

09/14/2023

It’s the season of the labor union all across the country. SAG-AFTRA, auto workers, professional athletes—even reality TV personalities are organizing to protect workers and demand fair treatment and fair pay.

Below is an Instagram post from a college employee’s union in Colorado. If you are a student worker in Texas, you can join a union, as well! Many Texas workers have been misled into thinking unions don’t exist here or aren’t allowed—but that falsehood only benefits companies who don’t want to fairly compensate employees.

Notice how the Colorado faculty, staff, and students are all organizing *together* to negotiate with their common employer. If you work for a paycheck, you are a worker, no matter what color your collar.

For student worker support in Texas, check out https://cwa-tseu.org/

For K-12 teacher unions, we recommend our sister organization, TSTA (Texas State Teachers Association) or Texas AFT (American Federation of Teachers).

And if you are faculty (full- or part-time), staff, or retired faculty in higher ed, join us! The Texas Faculty Association has the most robust legal protections, a support line for getting guidance about any work situation or grievance, the power to lobby in Austin on behalf of students and educators, the members benefits of being under the nation’s biggest union—the NEA—and the solidarity of knowing local teachers like us will have your back, no matter what.

Texas’ political environment driving faculty to leave, survey finds 09/07/2023

This is our shocked face 😐

“About two-thirds of Texas respondents said they would not recommend out-of-state colleagues take positions in Texas.

Of the professors surveyed, 57% cited the state’s political climate as their top reason for wanting to leave Texas. The second and third most cited reasons for a desire to leave were anxieties about salary and concerns over academic freedom, respectively.”

Texas’ political environment driving faculty to leave, survey finds After legislators passed laws banning diversity initiatives and targeting tenure at state universities, more than a quarter of the 1,900 Texas professors surveyed by faculty associations said they plan to look for positions out of state.

09/01/2023

Be an ethical consumer and buy union-made products this Labor Day. ✊🏼

09/01/2023

Share this image widely! The biggest obstacle to effective organizing isn’t currently union-busting companies. It’s the long-held, misguided belief that Texas teachers aren’t “allowed” to unionize, or that unions just don’t exist here. Not true.

Please make sure your friends and colleagues know the truth. When we stop ourselves before we even get started, those who oppress or mistreat workers are the ONLY ones who benefit.

Labor Day is just around the corner, so here's your reminder that unions exist in Texas, we are one, and you should consider joining. 😉 Read more here: https://www.texasaft.org/resources/know-rights/right-to-join-a-union/

08/31/2023

This is the front page of yesterday's Daily Tar Heel, the UNC student newspaper.

On Monday 8/28 the campus went into lockdown after a graduate student shot and killed his advisor. The newspaper image captures text messages that were sent to and from those hunkering down during the crisis.

What are your college's policies on carrying fi****ms, active shooter procedures, and safety drills? How much say did employees of your college have in implementing these policies?

We urge you to make your voice heard and to organize for many reasons, including having a seat at the table when it comes to policies that affect safety in the workplace--whether it's gun violence, lack of adequate lighting, or Covid.

08/31/2023

A reminder that we’re here and we’ll show up for you!

Have you heard the widely-circulated myth that "unions aren't allowed" in Texas, or among educators, or in higher ed, or at Collin College specifically?

We have GOOD NEWS for you: labor organizations are not only *allowed*; they are protected as freedom of association at the federal and state levels. And Collin College's own Board policy DGA (Legal) spells out the right for college employees, as agents working for the state, to be part of unions.

In Texas higher ed, we do not have the right to strike or to collectively bargain. But if you think this is the only thing unions do, there's so much you're missing!

Unions offer legal advice, legal counsel when needed, support from colleagues locally and statewide, insurance against abusive or illegal action, advocacy for educational interests, and the solidarity of all of your fellow members.

If you a) work for a living, b) acknowledge the power differential between your employer and you, and c) acutely feel the tension between keeping your paycheck and health insurance vs. ruffling the leadership -- YOU SHOULD JOIN A LABOR UNION.

Individuals who have their rights violated rarely have the money to go up against big businesses, and that includes Collin College. President Matkin actually crowed once to a group of faculty that he is happy when people sue the college because "we (the college) always win."

We'll see about that.

In the meantime, unless you're Scrooge McDuck, you could probably use the legal support and funding, not to mention the emotional support of your peers. We at Collin TFA have a motto: "We've Got Your Back" for a reason: we will stand up for you whether you are a member or not. We will be there.

Want to learn more? TexasFacultyAssociation.org

Sources for the Collin Board policy and Texas Government Codes in comments.

Here’s a few of us standing with a local Irving ISD teacher who was fired for using rainbow stickers to support LGBTQ students.

08/31/2023

👀 Spotted in Asheville, North Carolina

(via on Twitter)

Best of 2023 | He Couldn’t Teach ‘Slavery Was Wrong.’ So He Quit. 08/31/2023

You may have heard about this former history teacher from Iowa, but hearing the telling in his own voice is very powerful.

We are in the midst of a regressive wave of politics that seeks to dismantle much of the social progress of the last thirty years.

When a public school teacher is no longer allowed to take a stance on slavery or the Holocaust, that forced neutrality is not truly neutral.

There’s no such thing as neutrality on issues of human rights; privileged disengagement is the same as allowing the hateful and scapegoating ideologies to take over. And students deserve better than teachers who pretend that nothing matters.

What happens in K-12 across the country is deeply connected to what happens in colleges. College educators and staff can’t afford to ignore these trends.

Best of 2023 | He Couldn’t Teach ‘Slavery Was Wrong.’ So He Quit. How anti-CRT laws led one teacher to quit.

08/26/2023

We miss Angela Lansbury!

Your Right to Join a Union - Texas AFT 08/26/2023

Texas AFT with the fierce spirit! Check them out if you work in k-12 education.

“Frequently, people claim, ‘there are no unions in Texas’ or ‘teachers unions aren’t allowed in Texas.’ As supporting evidence, they usually argue that Texas has banned collective bargaining for most public employees (true), as well as striking (true).

While those two rights are hallmarks of labor unions — and our legislative agenda always includes fighting for them — they are not requirements for the union label.”

Your Right to Join a Union - Texas AFT Every public school employee has the right to join a union. Yes, even in "right-to-work" Texas. And by the way, Texas AFT is a union.

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Videos (show all)

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